The NBA notebook …
NEW YORK ó Stephon Marbury really isn’t any different than the average office worker agitated at his boss.
Sure, he may make $21 million a year ó a tad more than the typical disgruntled employee ó and it may be hard for most people to imagine bristling over a request to play in a professional basketball game. But to researchers who study the dynamics between management and staff, the feud between the New York Knicks and their estranged point guard is not all that unusual.
The academic term for Marbury’s behavior is “secret tests,” said Denise Rousseau, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. An unhappy husband acts the same way: overanalyzing his wife’s every move for hidden meaning.
So it’s natural ó if not justified ó that Marbury would interpret coach Mike D’Antoni’s actions as malicious no matter the intent. An employer trying to repair a splintered relationship must be absolutely clear in all communication, she said. Otherwise, say, Marbury may claim he perceived D’Antoni’s request that he play to be optional, while the coach considers it an order.
So should the Knicks have bought out Marbury when he wasn’t in their plans earlier this season, even if it meant paying him money he didn’t earn? Absolutely, Rousseau said. Refusing to pay up is an irrationally emotional decision, and keeping a disgruntled employee under those circumstances only hurts co-workers ó in this case, his teammates.
“That’s silly,” Rousseau said. “It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
LEBRONCLEVELAND ó LeBron James isn’t bothered by the unending onslaught of questions about his free-agent future. He’s sure his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates don’t mind them, either.
However, James thinks one team is tired of hearing about whether he’ll end up in New York.
“It’s a distraction for the Knicks,” he said. “It’s not a distraction for us ó we’re good.”
James’ plans in two years ó he can hit the free-agent market on July 1, 2010 ó have become a daily topic in New York. The Knicks are 8-9 and have already made two trades this season to clear salary-cap space so they can make a run at James, the biggest name in a stellar free-agent class that could include Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Redd and Ray Allen.
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